Illegal sand mining along the Dong Nai River, Vietnam

Illegal sand mining along the Dong Nai River is causing large environmental and socio-economic destruction, including death of residents due to massive land-slides.


Following the recent Vietnamese construction boom and its rapidly growing demand for construction materials such a sand and gravel, illegal sand extraction along the Dong Nai River has drastically increased during the last decade, in spite of provincial and national efforts to ban sand mining activities [1].

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Basic Data
NameIllegal sand mining along the Dong Nai River, Vietnam
ProvinceDong Nai province; Binh Duong province
Sitei.e. Vinh Cuu District; Nhon Trach District; and Buu Long, Long Bing Tanh and Hiep Hoa in Bien Hoa City
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific CommoditiesSand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsDong Nai River is the country’s longest inland river. Since years it is threatened by illegal sand mining.

Among the main illegal sand mining hotspots are Binh Hoa and Bingh Loi Communes of Vinh Cuu District; Long Tan and Phuoc An Communes in Nhon Trach Distrcit; and Buu Long, Long Bing Tanh and Hiep Hoa in Bien Hoa City [3].

In 2012, it was reported that only in Bien Hoa City, 18 cases of illegal sand mining were detected and 27 boats were seized [3]. In the Ho Chi Minh area, more than 40 boats were caught in District 9 and 6 boats in Cu Chi District [1].
Level of Investment (in USD)NA
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected PopulationDang Nai population living close to the river
Start Date2000
Relevant government actorsBien Hoa City environmental police; Dong Nai Department of Natural Resources and Environment
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersno information on EJOs could be found
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local government/political parties
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths, Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition
OtherResidents have died, following land-slides
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
OtherDamages to infrastructure (bridges, houses); declining fish stocks; declining agricultural area due to dike degradation
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesPetitioners demand better state monitoring and protection of rivers against illegal sand miners, as well as higher penalties [4].
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Illegal sand mining goes on.
Sources and Materials

2010 Mineral Law of Vietnam
[click to view]

2005 Mineral law of Vietnam
[click to view]


[2] Nguyen Mau Dung, 2011. River Sand Mining And Managament: A Case Of Cau River In Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Research Report No. 2011 RR7. Published by the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA)
[click to view]


[1] Viet Nam News online (16/07/2013): "Illegal sand miners plague Dong Nai" (accessed 06/07/2015)
[click to view]

[3] dti news online (13/03/2013): "Dong Nai people struggle to fight illegal sand exploitation" (accessed 06/07/2015)
[click to view]

[4] Petition on "Stop Illegal Sand Exploitation in Vietnam" (accessed 06/07/2015)
[click to view]

Other Documents

River sand transport Source:
[click to view]

Sand mining industry Source:
[click to view]

Local guard watching the river Source:
[click to view]

Sunken sand mining boat (after inspection and escape) source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim "dot" scheidel "at" gmail "dot" com
Last update16/07/2015